Pediatric experts recommend no juice for babies, toddlers
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Every parent wants the best for their children, which includes the best oral health for their baby’s smile. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a recommendation for parents to save fruit juice until after the child's first year. It also strongly urges parents to give juice in limited amounts after that.
The organization’s previous policy recommended no fruit juice for babies younger than 6 months, and limited daily quantities for older children. This new advice, titled "Fruit Juice in Infants, Children and Adolescents: Current Recommendations," expressed warnings about giving the sugary drinks to youth.
The guideline is aimed at preventing childhood obesity and declining oral health, common problems for America’s youngest populations. Previously, 100 percent fruit juice was perceived to be healthy for children.
New evidence shows past dietary policies facilitated high levels of sugar consumption, known to cause obesity and caries rates to skyrocket.
The extensive study even offers substitutes for juice. Water consumption is highly encouraged, as it is devoid of calories and provides hydration the body desperately needs.
The Academy also urged parents to talk to their doctors and health professionals about their child’s specific nutrient needs, adding that drinking significant amounts of juice prevents children and teens from consuming adequate amounts of protein and calcium necessary to facilitate growth. Young patients should even be advised about consuming enough fiber, the study mentioned.
Another advantage of this policy is that eating whole fruits, rather than only the juice, can help kids feel fuller and more sated. This can help prevent kids from overeating, says University of Texas pediatrics professor Steven Abrams. Combined with drinking no-calorie beverages like water can help tackle the persistent problem of childhood obesity.
The study details the benefit of including more whole fruits into the daily diet, rather than relying on refined fruit juices. The high-calorie beverages remove almost all fiber while adding preservatives and other chemicals into a child’s typical diet.
Eating, rather than drinking, whole fruits is also associated with lower rates of juvenile diabetes. The natural fiber in fruit results in a lower glycemic load and subsequently lower insulin production in the body. While fruit juice can be a cheap alternative to buying fruit, the possible consequence of health issues arising from diabetes and obesity give it a staggeringly higher cost overall.
This new push to limit fruit juice intake in younger children extends to all aspects of their healthcare — the Academy has created helpful pamphlets, posters and literature for health professionals. Dentists can provide this information to parents during dental exams for children or their parents.
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